Critically Endangered Monkey Born at Drusillas Park

7 Nov

The baby boom continues as a critically endangered monkey is  born at Drusillas as part of the European breeding programme. The Sulawesi black crested macaque was delivered on Tuesday 25th October and staff are delighted with the new arrival.

Black crested macaques are native to the Indonesian island of Sulawesi where they are now regarded as critically endangered by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature). In the last 40 years it is estimated that the population has been reduced by more than 80% due to habitat loss and hunting pressure and they now face the very real threat of extinction in the wild.

These large impressive monkeys have just one baby at a time, born with a pink face which darkens with age. So far the baby bundle, thought to be male, is thriving alongside parents Kendari and Moteck. He will remain very dependent for the next four to five months, clinging to his mother who will nurse him for at least a year.

Kendari and Moteck were introduced at Drusillas in 2010, after being re-homed respectively from Chester Zoo and Monkey Park in Israel. The new arrival is the couple’s first baby together and hopefully will be one of many more to come.

Breeding programmes such as the one at Drusillas Park operate throughout the zoo community, in conjunction with the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria. By cooperating in this way, animal collections hope to safeguard the existence of many animal species in order to secure their future survival.

Zoo Manager, Sue Woodgate commented: “It is wonderful to see the new addition to our macaque family. He is showing a lot of interest in his surroundings and being doted on by his cousin Kamala who was born at Drusillas in 2010. We are expecting a lot of monkeying around from these two over the coming months.”

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Baby Monkey Boom at Drusillas Park

1 Nov

Drusillas is currently in the midst of a baby boom with a multitude of mini monkeys popping up around the Park. Amongst the latest arrivals are two emperor tamarins, two cotton-topped tamarins, three red-handed tamarins and two silvery marmosets.

The monkey madness started when Emperor tamarin, Lucy gave birth to twins.  This species takes its name from the 19th Century Emperor, Wilhelm II of Germany, who they are said to resemble on account of their distinctive moustaches. The fan-tash-stic pair are becoming more independent everyday and can now be seen playing with their older siblings.

Two silvery marmosets were next to make an appearance. The pearl coloured pair were born on 28th August and are thriving under the watchful guidance of proud parents Captain Jack and Hester. Silvery marmosets are native to the forests of Central andSouth Americaand usually give birth to twins every five to six months.

Then it was the turn of the red-handed tamarins, who delivered triplets.Keepers made the happy discovery on 28th September and all the babies are doing well and prospering. This species usually have two babies at a time which are generally carried around by the father; to have three is rare.

Finally two critically endangered cotton-topped tamarins arrived. The tiny bundles were born on 14th October and are doing well with the help of Dad, John and Mum, Georgie. Cotton topped tamarins are native to the humid tropical forests of Columbia, where there has been a severe reduction in the population mainly due to the destruction of their habitat. Like many of the animals at Drusillas, the group is part of a European breeding programme.

Zoo Manager, Sue Woodgate commented: “We are always excited by new arrivals. It is brilliant to have so many babies born within our breeding programmes and they are proving very popular with the public too. Fingers crossed, we are hoping for a few more happy events in the near future.

Batty Halloween Fun!

20 Oct

This Halloween, the Rodrigues flying foxes at Drusillas Park have been discovering that they are bats about pumpkin! The trick or treat troop have been hanging out and dinning on jack-o’-lanterns, ordered to decorate the Park during the half-term Shriek Week.

Known as flying foxes due to their size, fox-like features and ginger furry body, Rodrigues fruit bats are amongst the rarest bats in the world. In the wild they are only found on the island of Rodrigues, near Mauritiusin the Indian Ocean.

At the zoo, these large bats are much more used to a fruity feast of apples, bananas, oranges, kiwis, melons, peaches and plums. Nevertheless they also eat leaves, leaf eater pellets, insects and vegetables and the seasonal special made a very welcome change.

Pumpkins make the ideal animal snack as they are a great source of potassium, Vitamin A and they are also high in fibre. However due to their seasonal nature they are not often enjoyed by the residents of the zoo.

Delivering the animals’ meals in imaginative and unusual ways is part of the zoo’s daily enrichment programme. This ensures they receive a varied and diverse diet, as well as encouraging them to think and work for their food as they would in the wild.

Half Term Halloween Fun!

12 Oct

If you are bored of all your local haunts, stake out the fun at Drusillas Park over the Halloween period. Between Saturday 22nd and Monday 31st October, Drusillas have conjured up some fang-tastically spooky surprises to keep your little horrors half term happy.

Venture through the creepy cobwebbed corridors of The Haunted Cottage into the terror-tory of Winifred the witch, as she plays hide and shriek with the unsuspecting public! Be warned however, Winifred and her frightful cat can startle young children and those of a nervous disposition!!

Winifred and her fiendish tricksters have also buried a wealth of their witchy wares within the sandy hollows of Dino-Dig. Help Drusillas reverse Winifred’s spell and return to normality, by retrieving the items in exchange for a tasty treat.

Visitors can also jump aboard Thomas the Tank Engine to complete the Pumpkin Challenge and experience a hair-raising haul through the Spooky Tunnel. With all this, plus the usual animal magic it’s well worth hopping on your broomstick and flying to Drusillas.

Spider Populations Soar

4 Oct

Drusillas Park’s spider expert, Angela Hale has been extremely busy over the last few weeks dealing with enquiries from the public as a result of the increased spider populations this year. It would appear that a warm spring has resulted in an abundance of these eight-legged invaders, leaving little to put the achnophobics mind at rest.

Angela commented: “People are likely to notice more spiders this year as a result of the warmer springtime. This coincided with the hatching of spiderlings leading to a higher survival rate. Similarly these temperate conditions have also meant that there are more insects around, which in turn has provided a wealth of food for spiders.”

Known as ‘Tarangela’ at the zoo, Angela knows almost all there is to know about these curious creatures and keeps a collection of over 150 different arachnids at home in her spare bedroom. She is also the secretary of the British Tarantula Society.

Many of the enquiries Angela has received have been from concerned members of the public who have discovered a larger than normal arachnid at home or in their garden, which they believe to be a foreign species. However, Angela claims these are much more likely to be the fertile females:

“At this time of year many female spiders are pregnant. Their bodies are swollen with eggs making them larger and a little more clumsy than usual. They are not bigger this year, nor are they an exotic breed; they are simply more visible to us at the present time.”

“Our native spiders pose no threat to us. Although most spiders are venomous they will generally only use this to catch their prey. They are unlikely to bite a human, except as a last resort and even then they would have difficulty breaking through our skin.”

“Spiders are essential to our ecosystem; without them we would be inundated with insects. Other species, such as the wren, also rely on them for food. They are our friends, not our enemies.

Chestnut Tree House Visits Sussex Zoo

27 Sep

A group of young people from Chestnut Tree House have enjoyed a complimentary day out at award-winning Drusillas Park. The visit took place on Saturday as part of the charity’s Fun and Friendship Youth Group outings.

Chestnut Tree House is the only hospice for children in Sussex and Drusillas Park’s Charity of the Year. Families are never charged for their care and the charity receives little government funding, so relies almost entirely on the help and support of the community to raise the £2.5 million required to provide its services.

During their visit, the group encountered a host of furry and feathered creatures along the zoo route including the resident meerkats, penguins and lemurs. They also enjoyed some close animal encounters in the new walk through aviary, Lory Landing.

Activity and Buddy Co-ordinator, Trisha Cullingford commented: “Our young people have varied disabilities and complex needs and the sight, sound and smell experience of Drusillas was an excellent activity for them.”

“We spent time looking and interacting with the animals and some of our young people went on the train. A couple fed the parrots and one said ‘that was the best thing ever’. Another member of our group sat for ages captivated by a lemur eating and feeding.”

“We were looked after very well, nothing was too much trouble for the staff; they were really friendly and helpful.”

New Zoo Babies!

20 Sep

Two capybara babies have been born at Drusillas Park. This is the first time the species has been bred at the zoo and staff are delighted with the new arrivals.

Capybara are the largest rodents in the world. In the wild they are only found in South America, where they live in groups near water.

Drusillas Park holds the UK Register for capybara. This means that Zoo Manager, Sue Woodgate assists with co-ordinating the movement of the species for the purpose of breeding. She also offers advice to other zoos on how these animals should be kept.

The latest arrivals were born at Drusillas on Tuesday 23rd August and are thriving under the guidance of proud parents, Hector and Tullula.

The cappy-couple were introduced at Drusillas in 2010 as part of the breeding programme; Tullula came from Marwell Wildlife in November 2005 followed by Hector from Reaseheath College last October.

Capybara live in pairs, family groups or in larger mixed herds.  They can have up to eight young at a time.

The delightful new duo have been exploring their environment and are already eating vegetables and browse, although they are still being nursed by their mother. The babies were born covered in fur and could run, swim and dive within hours of birth however, this is not without its dangers!

Zoo Manager, Sue Woodgate commented: “I was passing the capybara enclosure recently when I noticed that one of the babies was trapped in the pond and unable to get out. However, Hector quickly came to the rescue, swimming over to the edge of the water and bridging the gap so the baby could climb up him onto land – it was very sweet to watch.”